In interviews with Rolling Stone and CBS last year, Billy Joel shares why he stopped writing songs. “I just wasn’t as good as I wanted to be. It was driving me crazy. And it was wrecking my personal life too, just not being able to be satisfied.” That frustration led to a bout of drinking, he added.

He went on to share that he once read a quote from Neil Diamond in which Diamond said he had “forgiven himself for not being Beethoven.” In that moment, Joel realized, “my issue is,  I haven’t forgiven myself for not being Beethoven.”

Am I enough? No matter how accomplished, this question often plagues those of us who are driven. Is it the asking of this question that is behind this word: drive? Without it, perhaps we would accomplish less.

And yet, the question of how much is enough – money, legacy, career advancement, businesses, and stuff – is a personal one that each of us must answer for ourselves.

The message for me in Billy Joel’s interview is to recognize what is behind our drive for these things. And then ask ourselves what is it we truly want and are we moving toward that?

If we set high goals for ourselves, as most ambitious people do, what will we say to ourselves when the inevitable failures happen?

Will we forgive ourselves for not being Beethoven as Neil Diamond as done?  Or beat ourselves up as Billy Joel did for so long? The choice is ours.

Elisa K Spain

Are You a CEO or President of a Privately Held Business? If you are also a lifetime learner and want to learn more about my Vistage Group, click here


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